Frank S. Boyden
If asked to rank the elite metalsmiths in early 20th Century Chicago, most collectors and dealers would probably not even mention the Boyden-Minuth Company. But according to Sharon Darling, in her ground-breaking book Chicago Metalsmiths, Boyden-Minuth was "perhaps the city's most exclusive jeweler." In 1924, Boyden-Minuth fashioned a necklace for Edith Rockefeller McCormick "considered to be one of the most important pieces of jewelry ever created in the United States." This $350,000 bauble contained 1,685 diamonds weighing 204 carats, and unfortunately was broken up after its owner's demise.
Today, Boyden-Minuth is remembered primarily for its trophies and ecclesiastical pieces, if at all. This is unfortunate, given the company's remarkable output.
Early Frank S. Boyden Jewelry Box
Frank S. Boyden founded his eponymous company in 1903 with partner Fred C. Minuth, a German immigrant who arrived in America soon after he was born. In 1918 the company was renamed to include both principals.
At first, Boyden manufactured and wholesaled jewelry, according to Darling, but became a direct retailer of handmade items in the 1920s, focusing on "precious stones set in gold and platinum." The mark on smaller pieces seems to have been "B-M Co." although we have not seen any of these ourselves. Curiously, the only Boyden-Minuth jewelry object we have found is the pedestrian silver pin below.
The more common Boyden marks are the early "F. S. BOYDEN / CHICAGO" stamp along with a "B" in a scalloped oval cartouche, and the later "BOYDEN-MINUTH CO." walking bird:
F. S. Boyden mark:
Boyden - Borsum mark:
Other Chicago silversmiths such as the Chicago Silver Company / Gustafson Craft and Eivind Borsum sold their wares through Boyden-Minuth's shop. A combined F. S. BOYDEN and E. BORSUM mark is above; the simple Borsum / Boyden cream and sugar and notched tray below share the two marks.
Cream and Sugar set, two pieces, with angular strap handles with flat tops, applied wire
to rim, flat bottoms, rounded bowls, beautiful hammering. Creamer has small upturned spout.
Creamer: 5-1/16 W and 2-3/8" H. Sugar: 5-11/16" W and 2-1/4" H. Marked: E. BORSUM
/ STERLING / F. S. BOYDEN / CHICAGO
Boyden-Minuth later began creating notable sterling trophies, including large precise boat replicas for the Chicago Yacht Club. The piece below, for the Montana Bankers Association, is an imposing and detailed representation of a period golf bag, with the slightest suggestion of a pitcher spout and handle.
Trophy, cylindrical, in the shape of a tall ornamented pitcher. Arching circular strap handle with chased details and
applied buckle. Flaring lip with small spout and applied wire to rim. Applied curving strap around body with small
buckle, and small detailed applied backpack or saddlebag with flap and tiny buckle below handle. Flared base and
flat bottom. Applied vertical straps form four presentation panels with extensive engraving. 9-3/16" H and 4-7/8" W
handle-to-spout. Marked: BOYDEN-MINUTH-CO. [walking bird mark] / HAND WROUGHT / STERLING / 956
While the above object looks like a trophy, the smaller Nouveau-styled "Windsor Trophy" below resembles a delicate vase, with sensuous swooping curves and ribs. It is small, but elegantly hammered, and lovely.
Trophy, vase form, with wide flat base tapering quickly to narrow bottom that flares
gracefully outward to a wide shoulder, then necks in at the top. Applied wire to rim.
Five small repoussé swirling vertical ribs. Acid-etched "WINDSOR / TROPHY. /
WON BY" on side in art nouveau lettering. 6-1/4" H and 2-3/4" W.
Marked: BOYDEN-MINUTH-CO. / [walking bird mark] STERLING / HAND MADE
The golf trophy below uses lifelike golf clubs as handles. Its gently tapering form and small spreading foot give it an elegant look. As with most other Boyden objects, the quality of its hammering is outstanding. This trophy, like the golf bag version above, is marked "HANDWROUGHT" while the vase-form trophy above is stamped "HAND MADE." Presumably the company changed this designation over time as did Lebolt and Kalo.
Trophy, two-handled golf, beaker form vase with attached golf club handles and hammered surfaces.
Engraved "THE BUTLER COUNTY COUNTRY CLUB / ANNUAL HANDICAP GOLF
TOURNAMENT / RUNNER UP / 1922 / C. E. DARRAGH" 5" W and 5-1/2" H
Marked: [walking bird mark] / HANDWROUGHT / STERLING
An early and very unusual serving fork bearing the BOYDEN / CHICAGO mark was made with an applied bezel-set cameo and a small notch at the end:
Fork, serving, with blunt end and bezel set cameo of classical subject on handle. Hammered
Surface. 7-5/8" L. Marked: BOYDEN / CHICAGO / STERLING HANDMADE
The small curving notches are repeated in the corners of the tray below. Every piece of Boyden silver we've seen is of top quality, with fine hammering, construction, and design. This particular tray is stamped with the Boyden scalloped B mark but contains the Borsum name rather than "Boyden."
Tray, rectangular, hammered surfaces with raised border and circular cuts in the corners, slightly rounded sides.
Applied "K" mono. 9-7/8" L and 7" W and 3/8" H. Stamped with the Boyden mark but not the name:
The simple, early bowl below is somewhat sterile, but like all Boyden pieces, is nicely hammered and very well made.
Bowl, round, with flat bottom and turned-over edge. 8" W and 2-3/16" H.
Marked: F.S. BOYDEN / CHICAGO / [mark] / STERLING
While Boyden-Minuth was known for its lavish jewelry, with sprays of precious stones set in gold or platinum, the only piece we've seen is the sterling bar pin below, composed of an undulating silver ribbon on a fixed backing. 2-7/16" L and 5/16" W. Marked: BOYDEN-MINUTH-CO. / STERLING